What Skills Should I Teach First?
Back-to-School Ukulele Edition: What Skills Should I Teach First?
Teaching a new instrument to young learners can be a little overwhelming! Especially after summer vacation, kids are full of energy and curiosity about what the new school year has in store for them. Contrary to what you might think, skills like tuning, strumming, or fingering chords are not the most essential right off the bat. Set up your students for success by teaching them these skills first:
Posture and Position
Teaching posture and position might seem dull, especially for kids who want to get right to playing! The truth is, if you don’t teach posture and hand positioning first, you’ll regret it for all the time you spend correcting in the future. Try to make this skill fun by adding in some humor. Can you play the ukulele upside down, behind your head, or upright? Maybe, maybe not, but making the kids laugh while instructing is a surefire way to help them remember correct hand position and posture. This skill encompasses a few basics:
- Left-hand position on the fretboard.
- Right-hand position while strumming.
- Where the ukulele sits on the legs.
- Sitting up straight and not bending over the ukulele.
Right and Left Hand Coordination
Coordinating different movements between two hands can be so tricky! Especially for kids, this skill can make or break the enjoyability of learning an instrument. The last thing you want is for your students to be frustrated. Implementing this skill early will enable your students to have more success when they learn skills like strumming or changing chords. If they already have the coordination mastered, then they can focus on newer, more difficult skills. Specifically, right and left-hand coordination looks like:
- Opening and closing the left hand fingers on the strings.
- Activating the strings with right hand fingers in a down and up motion.
- Doing these skills at the same time.
Happy Helpful Guide to the Ukulele
All of the information mentioned above about posture, positioning, right, and left-hand coordination are addressed as Steps 1 and 2 in the Happy Helpful Guide to the Ukulele. In the Guide, you will find specific exercises to break down the skills. Supplement your teaching with additional visuals from the Guide or videos from our YouTube Channel. As we know, kids all learn in different ways and it’s important to support learners with visuals, media, and hands-on experiences!
Sign up for our Educator’s Portal to download a FREE PDF copy of the Happy Helpful Guide. The portal is a one-stop shop for all your ukulele teaching needs. Purchase our instruments at educator pricing and check out the learning materials with the support of our Uku Education team. We can’t wait to meet you!
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